Mapping and Countering the Flow of Misinformation in the Tana Delta of Kenya

One of the worst violent incidents in Kenya since 2007 took place on August 22, 2012 when 52 people died in ethnic violence between Orma farmers and the nomadic Pokomos in Tana River County. This two-year research project will contribute to peacebuilding efforts in the Tana River Delta. Researchers will map the origins and flows of misinformation. They will then test the effectiveness of different measures for countering misinformation to reduce the risk of violence among the ethnic communities living in the area.

The Tana River Delta has experienced periodic inter-ethnic violence over resources. This conflict has resulted in deaths and the displacement of local communities. The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention has carried out preliminary research, providing evidence for the role of misinformation as a driver of this violence. This includes both organic rumours and deliberate untruths.

This research is crucial in light of the significant and growing role of networked technologies, especially mobile phones, in Kenya and other developing countries. Given the negative role that technology can play in the flow of misinformation and in inciting or organizing violence, the project will explore the role of networked technologies in the spread and influence of misinformation. Researchers will compare these technologies to other means of communication in this context. They will also:

  • refine existing methods for verifying crowdsourced data and information from other sources, and explore the potential to automate this verification;
  • generate new knowledge about the origins and flow of misinformation among Tana River Delta communities;
  • test the effectiveness of various misinformation countermeasures;
  • build skills and knowledge in Tana River Delta communities to recognize and counter misinformation; and,
  • promote collaborative links between Canadian and Kenyan researchers.

The project's long-term goal is to contribute to violence prevention in this region of Kenya. This aligns with Kenya's long-term development plan, Vision 2030, which recognizes the critical role of peace and security in the country's socio-economic development.

Project ID

107478

Project status

Closed

Start Date

Monday, October 21, 2013

End Date

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Duration

24 months

IDRC Officer

Osir, Ellie Onyango

Total funding

CA$ 346,059

Country(s)

Kenya, North of Sahara, South of Sahara

Project Leader

Christopher Tuckwood

Institution

Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention

Institution Country

Kenya

Institution Website

http://www.thesentinelproject.org